Once again, I’m really thankful to the cool people at Midas Promotions and Universal Music Singapore who squeezed me into one of the roundtable interview sessions with Maksim Mrvica.
I’m a huge fan of Maksim and it was only after the concert that it struck me that I should have asked if Maksim was doing any interviews while he was in Singapore. I have so many things that I wanted to ask him. Many of them are tiny little (seemingly silly) things that you wonder in awe when you watch and hear him play on the piano.
I still remember very vividly the details of stalking Maksim when he first came to Singapore in 2004 for the first concert at the Kallang Theatre. He was with his wife and if you didn’t know who he was, you would have just thought he was a regular bloke on holiday with his wife.
After asking him for an autograph and photo then, he offered us some chocolates that the record label gifted to him. We were really shocked coz no one usually bothers about us after they’re done signing. That left a really deep memory for us coz he was the first artist/celebrity we stalked who did more than just sign.
I also remember asking him if his hands hurt after a concert coz he looked like he was banging really hard on the keys. He gave me an amused look and said, “Yes, actually it hurts.”
Back then, Maksim’s English wasn’t very good. He actually couldn’t speak a grammatically long sentence.
Fast forward 8 years to the interview session we had, Maksim is now fluent in English and exudes a cool confidence as he greets you when you walk into the room. Despite looking visibly older since the last concert (I assume his daughter must be quite a handful), he looks every bit like a rock star who will trash the room partying than an award winning classical pianist really.
I sat myself right beside Maksim (duh!) so I can bask in his awesomeness and ask the first question for the session.
Truth was, I had so many fangirl questions to ask but in such a professional(-ish) setting, I had to ask a sensible question first: “why an album of movie themes?”
Maksim: Well I did a couple of movie songs, you know, on my previous crossover albums and basically, me and my manager came to an idea, “why don’t we do something completely different?” coz I always say I’m very open to explore different boundaries of music. And because my, you know, albums are always very connected to classical music. This was something completely different and it’s completely different approach. So he said, you know, “are we brave enough? Am I brave enough?” and I said “yes” *chuckles* and it was like kind of a challenge to take pieces which obviously are so well known like Pirates of the Carribean. People heard it million times and there are a million versions but I don’t think that there’s a version that, you know, piano crossover style, which is my style. And I think it is interesting for all of my fans, you know, to hear what we did with it, you know, coz it is a completely different arrangement and it is completely different approach.
(He says “you know” so much!!)
I should pass the baton but I had to squeezed in another follow up question (sorry to the rest of you guys in the same session). I asked him if he would ever do a jazz album or something and he said that he actually doesn’t like jazz and blues. LOL. Still, he concedes that it is not something that is set in stone and his might change his mind in the future.
He also mentioned that he loves electronic music a lot and when he was younger, he would attend loads of techno parties. Still, he had to give up some parties and/or football sessions with his friends to practise on the piano. “I didn’t practise that much in case you get the wrong idea.” Hahaha.
Also, he mentioned that he was very lazy and would only practise a piece at the very last minute (2 days) and lie to his piano teacher that he spent a lot of time on it (one week). His piano teacher found out the truth somehow and realised how much talent he had.
Given how Maksim loves his electronic music, he was asked if he has ever considered being a DJ. Interestingly (to me), Maksim said it was actually a question that he gets asked a lot. 🙂 I cannot imagine Maksim as a club DJ. No way. His talent on the piano would be wasted if he ever becomes/sidelines as a DJ!
Fortunately to all his fans (actually it is probably just me), Maksim doesn’t want to delve into anything else as he sees himself as a classical musician and that is where his passion is. In fact, “Pagrag” (Variations I & II) is Maksim’s attempt at composition and arrangement of the “Paganini Theme” so this is the closest you can get to Maksim delving into anything else beyond playing the piano.
Also, I finally got an answer to something that I’ve wondered for years!
I have always been curious to know if “Leeloo’s Tune” and “Ana’s Dream” were about Maksim’s daughter and wife. The answer is yes and just so you know, “Ana’s Dream” was the name that Maksim suggested to an original that Tonci composed for him. So it is not a musical description of Ana’s dream per se. 🙂
Also, I finally know who “Claudine” is; it is Maksim’s manager’s daughter. She must be really sweet and lovely because the music is so beautiful. It remains one of my favourite songs EVER. The “Hana” in the song “Hana’s Eyes” is Tonci’s daughter.
That said, it would be awesome if I ever get to talk to Tonci Huljic someday. His compositions are really beautiful and I quite literally can just visual what he is trying to describe with the music. Amazing.
I have digressed and gone on enough and it is only about 70% of the contents in the interview. Hahaha. I can rave about Maksim for ages but I won’t do it to you all. 🙂 If anyone wants to hear the full interview, I’ll share a soundcloud link of the audio recording.
Finally, the photos. Enjoy!
[12 January 2013 | audio of the interview recording added]
So yeah, I admit that I had forgotten about this for a while so I took so long to update this page with the upload of the audio interview.
Still, better late than never. Here it is: